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Jun 02

June is Healthy Homes Month

Posted on June 2, 2022 at 2:37 PM by Bridget Craker

There’s a reason we have sayings like “there’s no place like home” and “home sweet home”, the home should be a safe and comfortable place. Unfortunately, homes sometimes have issues pop up that make them less safe to live in. The bright side is that most of these issues are preventable and able to be fixed. Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been living in your place for 30 years there are some important actions you should take to ensure your home, and you can stay healthy.

1. Test for radon.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS) reports that 1 in 10 homes in Wisconsin has high radon levels. In Green County, 50% of homes tested have resulted in a level that would recommend radon mitigation strategies. What’s radon you ask? It is a naturally occurring gas in the soil caused by the breakdown of uranium which breaks down into radium, which turns into radon. This gas is harmful to humans because long-term exposure can lead to lung cancer. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking and the number 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon testing will tell you if you have high radon levels entering your home. If your radon levels are over the recommended limit, you can talk with a radon mitigation contractor who can install a radon mitigation system. To get your home tested for radon, you can purchase a radon test kit at your local hardware store or from Green County Public Health. Give us a call at (608) 328-9390 to schedule a time to pick up a kit.

 

2. Test your well water.

People who live out in the country are likely private well owners and are responsible for the protection and maintenance of their drinking water, unlike those who live in a village or city and use the municipal water system. Most private wells in Wisconsin provide safe, clean drinking water to residents, but sometimes wells may become contaminated. The only way to know if your well water is safe is to test for it. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends testing for bacteria and nitrate at least once a year and testing for arsenic at least once. Green County Public Health has well water test kits available for purchase; call us at (608) 328-9390 to learn more about test options, and costs and set up a time to com your test kit.

 

3. Learn about lead poisoning.

Lead is a naturally occurring substance that has been added to many products to stabilize them. However, when humans are exposed to lead it can lead to brain damage. Since this discovery, lead has been removed from many products, but people can still be exposed to lead at their workplace, using certain products, or in their home. Lead paint is one of the major causes of lead poisoning in Wisconsin. In 1978 lead paint was banned. However, homes built before 1978 likely still have lead paint inside. To help prevent lead exposure, you can check your home for chipped and peeling paint around windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, and railings. If you find chipped pieces or peeling paint, remove them carefully with a damp paper towel and discard it in the trash; then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel and a degreasing type of soap, like liquid dish soap that cuts grease. Additionally, home renovations can cause hazardous lead dust, so if you’re renovating your home, hire a lead-safe renovator. Parents of young kids should talk with their child’s doctor about blood lead level testing. The WI DHS recommends each child should have a blood lead test three times before the age of 3 years: at around 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months. Children aged 3 through 5 years should be tested annually if they meet one or more of the following risk criteria: live in a house built before 1950, live in a house built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovations, have a sibling or playmate with lead poisoning, are enrolled in Medicaid or the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC), are uninsured, or have no record of a previous test. Green County Public Health partners with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on the Lead Safe Homes Grant.  If you own or rent a property where children reside or spend time, the cost of removing lead hazards may be covered by the grant. Several homes in Green County have been made lead-safe under this grant opportunity. To learn more about this program and to see if you may be eligible visit the WI DHS website: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02729.pdf Additionally, under the grant, contractors can be reimbursed for training time and costs for state certification in Lead Safe Disciplines.

 

4. Change the batteries.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that you cannot see or smell. It's made when fuels— such as gas, kerosene, propane, or wood—are burned. Carbon monoxide can quickly build in a home if it is poorly vented or there is a malfunctioning heater, furnace, range, fuel-powered appliances, or a car left idling in a garage. Carbon monoxide detectors are required to be placed on each floor level in all Wisconsin homes by State law. Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector; if you haven’t replaced your batteries in a while, do it after reading this blog post. After changing the batteries, push the “Test” button to ensure it’s working correctly. You should also replace your detector every five years.

 

5. Prevent and prepare for mold. 

Spring and summertime often bring strong storms that can cause flooding, which can lead to mold growth. Depending on where you live, recurring flooding may be a problem. But, flooding from rainstorms is not the only issue that can lead to mold issues – moisture from inside your home (leaks, running faucets, humidity) can also be a problem. To prevent water from entering your home, it’s important to start with identifying any cracks or leaks letting moisture in. Fix roof leaks, leaking pipes, and windows or doors that do not seal correctly. Smaller steps can include keeping your home well ventilated (using air conditioners or dehumidifiers), running the bathroom fan during showers, and keeping kitchen and bathroom surfaces dry. If you do have a flood in your home, cleaning things up within 24-48 hours will help minimize the change of mold growth. To clean up mold in your home, you can do it yourself (depending on the severity) or hire a contractor. If you need to clean up the mold, you should go to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website to find cleaning steps or a list of local contractors: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mold/clean.htm.